By Lauren Walker
Seniors are more healthy and active then ever before. The distinct shift of the tide is evident. The 2016 Canadian Census showed 5.9 million Canadian seniors vs. 5.8 million Canadians fourteen and under. What does this mean for us in the exercise profession? A shift in the market means a shift in our marketing. It’s no longer just a young person’s game. Knowing the market means you can ride the age wave to success.
What appeals to baby boomers?
The age gap between me and my clients can span more than thirty years. I can share with you what appeals to this generation of exercisers.
- Customer Service: They know what they want and are not afraid to ask for it! They do not want to talk to an answering machine or an automated voice. It’s important to take the time and make yourself available to answer questions and concerns.
- Know their Name: It’s a common courtesy that most customers appreciate. It makes your clients feel apart of the community as a whole. They are not just another face in the crowd, but a valued member.
- Friendship: I’ve been in this situation with a client before. When you’re sixty five and it’s your first time in a gym, it’s very scary. I always make a point of introducing them to other members who are similar in age. It makes them feel more included and less intimidated.
- Consideration: Small gestures make a huge difference. Clients I work with are unable to grip the water bottle, so I open it for them. I mark the bottle so they don’t lose it. It’s just a typical example of helping someone beyond the call of duty.
- Listen: This population values social relationships and connections. As a trainer, you can be a valuable part of the gym experience. Take the time to hear about their interests, families and friends. It makes them feel like you are invested in their future wellness.
Changing the Environment
First we need to know what kind of programs appeal to this generation. Quality of life is a priority. As business owners, we need to target programs towards that mentality. It’s important for this age group to maintain their independence. Based on an article featured on www.precor.com, here’s what is important to baby boomers:
- Prevention – Preventing falls and memory issues
- Control – Taking control of chronic health issues
- Reversal – Slowing down the aging process and enjoying quality time with family
- Independence – Maintaining quality of life and social relationships as they age
We must support and nurture programs that cater to this generation. Group programs support the need to get active and to be social. Do you or your club offer any of the following programs to this age group?
Strength training: This is highly recommended due to the loss of muscle mass over the age of forty. It increases bone density and has been linked to increase joint health and stability. It also aids in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Relaxation: Yoga, Tai Chi and meditation are known to benefit brain health and lower stress.
Aerobic Fitness: Dance based classes and walking clubs are both active and social. They encourage and support friendships and nurture better heart health.
Brain Fitness: Getting a variety of exercise is shown to help learn new patterns, develop new connections in the brain and ward of age related memory issues. Kickboxing has been shown to help those suffering from Parkinsons and Dementia.
All programs should be designed to help your client maintain his or her independence. The goal of your marketing should be to appeal to what your clients need most. They need exercise programs that help them maintain a good quality of life – more time living and less time in the Doctors office! If your business can incorporate a few small changes, you’ll be riding the age wave to success.